SMBtech caught up with Paul Arthur, Regional Vice President Australia and New Zealand at OutSystems
For someone coming across OutSystems for the first time, can you briefly explain what the company does and who it does it for?
OutSystems is a global leader in high-performance low-code application development. Our platform provides companies with a means of quickly and easily developing new apps for bringing business offerings and services to their customers. It also enables organisations to tie existing systems together and modernise legacy systems to achieve maximum business efficiency.
As well as boosting productivity for developers, our high-performance low-code application development platform brings application development closer to the business and other stakeholders, using a visual and intuitive interface to help bring projects to life. Low-code application development allows customers to save a lot of time and get their products and services to market much faster than using traditional development methods, while also saving significantly on maintenance costs and overheads.
What is your core technology and how does it differ from others – what sets OutSystems apart?
Gartner forecasts that by 2025, 70 per cent of all new enterprise apps will be developed using low-code technology. The OutSystems platform allows teams to develop complex, world-class applications at speed and at scale, with an extensive level of customisability. With high productivity built-in to its DNA, OutSystems allows developer teams of any size to bring enterprise-grade applications to market quickly, enabling our customers to achieve competitive success in a fraction of the time and cost compared to when using traditional software development methods.
The OutSystems platform is ultimately scalable, and enables the creation of complex applications without the overheads and time this normally takes. Our platform is more than low-code or no-code software – high-performance low-code is integral, and gives customers the ability to develop serious applications with a core focus on productivity.
What are the main reasons a company might look at using low-code development tools?
Right now, the world is still in a state of flux. Following the pandemic, the world economy has become increasingly volatile and we are seeing a fair amount of cost-cutting occuring within organisations. It makes economic and business sense to use high-performance low-code technology to develop applications and bring services online faster, in a more cost-effective manner. This is especially helpful for organisations facing manpower constraints, as high-performance low-code can help small developer teams stay agile and more productive with pre-built templates and intelligent automation. This not only helps firms deliver quality applications for customers efficiently, but creates further opportunities for innovation.
What appetite does the market have for rapid application development tools at present?
Since the pandemic, organisations have accelerated their digital change. During that time it became essential for them to pivot to new ways of working and marketing their products and services.The digital shift meant that everything had to be transposed online in a seamless, easy-to-use format to engage consumers. That acceleration has only evolved more since the pandemic eased, and now consumers and B2B customers have a heightened expectation for services to be delivered efficiently. The churn rate is higher, for one thing – if an application doesn’t work as quickly and easily as they expect, it is all too easy to search for another.
This all makes the market very keen to develop powerful applications quickly and easily via high-performance low-code application development tools. According to a recent IDC report commissioned by OutSystems, more than 40 per cent of APAC organisations are already using low-code development solutions and we foresee that number growing significantly to match Gartner’s prediction that worldwide low-code development technologies are projected to increase in value by 19.6 percent between 2022 and 2023.
Were things changed much by the global pandemic? If so, have things gone back to normal now?
We’ve definitely seen customer and consumer expectations change and become more demanding. People expect a fast, seamless online experience nowadays. Businesses and corporations had to adapt to stay viable when lockdowns were the norm, and this also cultivated an expectation for digital, always-on services. Consumers demand smart, seamless technologies when they are shopping online or looking for services such as insurance or banking.
People are now used to having some element of work-from-home, and appreciate the impact this has on their work/life balance. The lack of talent available is also an issue – since the pandemic it has been very difficult to find experienced employees for some roles, and development is very much one of those with the government’s Skills Priority List suggesting there is ‘strong future demand’ and listing shortages of developers across every state and territory. Therefore it is essential that companies learn to do more, with fewer resources. This also extends to the retention and job satisfaction of developers who, if given the right tools to perform their jobs better, are more likely to stay.
All this means that the demand for low-code has advanced, and the tools that are brought to market have advanced along with that demand.
What are some of the key industries you are working with in Australia?
We work with clients across a broad scope of industries. We have partnered with global logistics companies such as Monson and legal firm Allens to modernise their legacy systems and scale their innovation efforts. We have also worked with government agencies like the ACT Revenue Office to build self-service portals to streamline tax payments and refund processes for citizens, and helped the Australian Defence Force with designing case management systems together with IT firm Leidos. Our platform played an integral role in developing Safe Havens, a cloud-based child abuse protection system, together with local developer Devworkz. With the aim of empowering enterprise innovation through development software, OutSystems is involved in a diverse array of projects, which are constantly evolving and ultimately rewarding.
Do you work with the public sector as well as private companies?
As mentioned above, OutSystems is an integral part of many major digital transformation projects within all levels of government. In many cases, the very nature of government means things are in a state of internal change. One department or agency will not necessarily make decisions in accord with the next due to the nature of their work, and therefore systems are often disparate. Our platform plays a big role in tying those systems together, and making things work seamlessly.
We have also been involved in application development for a number of government agencies looking to streamline and improve their outreach to availability to constituents. Faster, better apps help people engage with important government bodies and allow them to interact in better, more dynamic ways.
How will the current economic state affect your business, and that of your customers?
Between the increasing likelihood of recession, continuing tech-company layoffs and talent shortages in other areas, companies are challenged to find and retain the developers they need while still creating applications and bringing services to market.
I believe that we will see a growing demand for high-performance low-code as the economy and organisations respond to these conditions. Developers will require the tools to empower their success – potentially with fewer resources – and companies will certainly need to look at faster, more cost-effective ways of maintaining productivity.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is another area likely to have an impact on our customers. Over the next year, many companies will take a people-first approach in application development and deploy intelligent automation with AI capabilities to spark creativity, automate mundane tasks, and avoid developer burnout. Companies will leverage AI to accurately design and predict effective application development processes to validate and future proof their applications before they go into production. Together, these trends will play an increasingly greater role in accelerating the digital transformation process for businesses and help them roll out applications at scale without compromising on performance.
How should somebody get in touch with OutSystems, if they want to learn more?
The OutSystems website has a host of information and reference material on high performance low-code development including customer stories and eBooks. Resources include explanations about how high-performace low-code allows developers to use a model-driven, visual language interface with drag-and-drop features to build their applications, rather than rely on traditional manual coding.
OutSystems also has an extensive training page which has free courses and paid boot camps detailing how to build applications on the OutSystems platform. Examples of these include ‘Intro to OutSystems Development’, ‘Modeling Data’ and ‘ODC Native App Generation’.
We provide a wide range of use cases which clearly demonstrate the different ways low-code development can be used across a range of organisational structures and scenarios, such as for web apps, business process automation or workflow management. These also explain best practices for application development, as well as explaining the benefits and capabilities of a high-performance platform as opposed to basic low-code.